23 December 2010

Mozambique: Housing is a Priority, Insists Prime Minister

Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Aires Ali on Thursday insisted that housing is a priority for the government, and during its five year term of office (2010-2014), measures will be taken to provide housing for the population.

Speaking live on a programme jointly organised by Radio Mozambique and Mozambique Television (TVM), Ali said the government is drawing up the necessary legal instruments for housing projects, while the Housing Promotion Fund (FFH) is being reorganized to improve its response to housing needs.

There is certainly a critical shortage of housing, particularly for young people, in Mozambican cities. Building of homes has not kept pace with population growth, and the stock of publicly owned houses has dwindled to negligible proportions following the sale, as from 1995, of state owned properties to their tenants.

Aires Ali, however, promised that housing "will have due priority" during this government's term. Its five year programme envisages the construction of 100,000 houses across the country to reduce the deficit.

Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbana told the same TV and radio programme that during 2010 tourist investments of 653 million US dollars were approved, and of this sum, 409 million dollars is already being invested.

He claimed that Mozambican tourism is recovering satisfactorily from the effects of the international financial crisis. "Revenue is continue to show improvements", he said. In 2009, the volume of tourism revenue registered was 195 million dollars.

Fernando believed this was a serious under-estimate, since much of the money spent by tourists (in shops or restaurants, for example) is not registered as tourist revenue.

Tourism investment was having a significant impact on job creation, Sumbana added. He said the number of jobs in tourism grew by 18 per cent over the past year, to reach 3,643.

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, said the country is already benefiting from the large scale coal projects in the western province of Tete. Taxes on coal mining activities this year amounted to 65 million meticais (1.9 million US dollars) - and that is before the start of exports from the main investors so far, Vale of Brazil and Riversadale Mining of Australia.

She said that the Irish company Kenmare Resources, which exploits the titanium bearing heavy sands in the northern coastal district of Moma paid two million meticais in taxes in 2007, its first year of operation, rising to 14 million meticais in 2008 and 500 million in 2009. This year's figure for Kenmare's taxes is expected to be the same.

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